Recommendations from NSF-IPAM Workshop

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Full report available here.

SUMMARY RECOMMENDATIONS
NSF-IPAM Mathematical Sciences Internship Workshop

This report reflects discussions and recommendation from the September 1-2, 2015 NSF-IPAM Mathematical Sciences Internship Workshop held at the Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics (IPAM) at UCLA. The workshop was organized by Russel Caflisch, Mathematics, UCLA; Alan Lee, VP of Engineering, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD); Rachel Levy, Mathematics, Harvey Mudd College (facilitator) and James L Rosenberger, Statistics, Penn State. The diverse group of participants brought perspectives from academic (college/university, public/private), business (large/small) and governmental institutions as well as many areas of the mathematical sciences.

The goal of the two-day workshop was to discuss recommendations for infrastructure and programs that could:

  • increase the number of internships targeting mathematical sciences students
  • open the internship pipeline to a diverse group of students
  • provide assistance with timing and logistics for undergraduates, graduate students and postdocs in pure and applied mathematics
  • provide training to prepare mathematical sciences students for internships
  • develop viable models of how internships best work for mathematical sciences students, postdocs and faculty and for industry/government

During the workshop participants spent two sessions in one of the following working groups: support, training, logistics, recruiting, culture. They also rotated to two other groups, participated in a charrette to respond to general questions, and provided comments in several all-group sessions. With the intentional overlap between topics and exchange between members of different groups, many ideas arose which resonated across the groups. This report represents central ideas that had strong support, as well as questions and considerations raised by the participants.
The following recommendations resonated across the working groups on support, training, logistics, recruiting, and culture. A target of 1000 graduate internships per year was suggested to meet the demand for internships arising from the strong production of Mathematics PhDs, and the large numbers of students pursuing BIG (Business, Industry, Government) careers after the undergraduate and Master’s levels. The recommendations are related as a distributed network, with different goals at each level.

Distributed Network Internship Initiative

National level: Create a national network to increase internship information exchange, data collection, access and opportunities

  • Design and implement a data-gathering project to inform a picture of the mathematical sciences internship landscape and provide baseline data for new initiatives.
  • Provide communication and coordination of best practices, training materials and opportunities, models for local programs, and media to aid regional and local outreach efforts.
  • Build a national network of individuals, companies, government labs, academic institutions, math societies and mathematical sciences institutes to exchange information and work together to increase and advertise internship opportunities.
  • Develop funding mechanisms and pursue funding for mathematical sciences internship stipends (seed money), internship training and internship development.

Regional level: Establish regional internship centers to build internship contacts and organize training opportunities

  • Build internship contacts and opportunities in the region
  • Offer centralized training (that could be replicated locally), such as short courses in programming, soft skills and data.
  • Hire internship development staff to serve as liaisons between local institutions and potential internship sites and to promote mathematical sciences internships in BIG by communicating how mathematical sciences students make contributions.

Local academic level: Encourage and enable student participation in internships in mathematical sciences departments

  • Encourage students to pursue training and internships.
  • Disseminate information from national and regional organizations.
  • Identify the department chair, director of graduate study, or an interested faculty member to build local institutional mechanisms for internships.

Roadmap: The initial phase of this initiative would include the national network and a few regional initiatives (perhaps located in the eastern/southern, central/midwestern and western parts of the US).   The first priority would be to build thenetwork itself, gather and disseminate information (such as data, best practices and internship opportunities) and seek sponsorship from BIG to become self-sustaining. The first priority for the regional centers would be to identify participating institutions, provide training, and build academic-BIG connections in the region. New regional centers would be added, with promising locations informed by areas of need identified by the national network.

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